Monday, 23 August 2010

It's here!!!

Today is move day.

I'm so not ready for this, but somehow I didn't think I would ever be.
You see, over the last few weeks, I've had holiday makers over, so naturally, I slowed down my progress, so I could enjoy the time with them.
Alas, to my detriment, there's so much stuff now around the place, and lots of boxes I never got round to looking at.

I've had

  • a cup of strong peppermint tea (to calm me down)
  • a dose of Zyrtek (to take care of the potential stress!)
  • a slice of buttered bread (to give me energy)
  • a dose of my favorite TV programme of the moment - Desperate Housewives!
  • some quiet time with myself and my creator (to keep me focussed and Him in control)

I'm going to start packing the clothes that will actually go on the flight with us. Houston is warmer than London, so I guess I won't be needing the fleeces just yet (but I'll take one each - just in case....)

It's wierd. I've fully dedicated the last 3 weeks trying to sort everything out, and yet, it still feels like I've not done anything! I wonder if this is my over-critical self kicking in...

  • Kitchen - 85% done
  • Master Bedroom and children's room - 50% done
  • Spare Bedroom - 0% done!
  • Living rooms - 80% done
  • Garage - 50% done

Let me see, if these were GCE results, would I get into Oxford / Havard / Cambridge with these scores????? Doubt it.....

Sunday, 15 August 2010

I'll miss Eastenders...

I've started thinking about the tiny tidbits of our life here that I am going to miss...

I'm going to miss the ability to walk to places, ability to get on a bus easily (I have to feel safe too!), ability to walk to my local off-license and get a few grocery items.

I'm going to miss the British humour, the weather, the TV programmes (Masterchef, Weakest Link, X-Factor, Britain's Got Talent, good old Eastenders!).

Now I am not ashamed to say that I am a huge Eastie's fan. Most people try to act as if they do not watch it, yet they know all about Ronnie, Roxie, Max, Jack, Bianca somehow....

Well, I'm pleased to announce that I am an avid fan and at the end of each episode, I am truly thankful for my normal and somewhat boring life!

Let's face it, how many places :-
- can you die and come back (Lucas/Denise - he did strangle her!)
- can you have a relationship / baby with your friend / sister's boyfriend and still remain close (Roxie/Ronnie, Pat/Peggy)
- can have such large houses with so many rooms (Pat's house must have at least 10 bedrooms, if you go by all the people that stay there, the flat atop the Vic too!)
- can you own a house and yet want to move out for your tenants (Pat, Patrick)
- can you not work, yet still afford to have a drink at the pub, a coffee at Ian's place or pop a bottle of wine almost every evening with your dinner? (Janine/Ryan)

Walford must be heaven, but we just don't know it. Do you think they are in a cult or sect, where they have signed a pact to always be together and never leave? Because anything outside Walford is like another planet. And that is why the relationships are doomed, because they are not looking outside of the Square for new relationships.

Oh yes, I love Eastenders and will miss it.
I just hope I can catch it on BBC iPlayer when I move over....

If any of this has made you interested in catching up on the characters and storyline, go to www.bbc.co.uk/eastenders

Sunday, 8 August 2010

House-hunting

We're house-hunting in Houston. Yay!

I'm sure you're already thinking - huge 5/6 bedroom house with jacuzzi and spa, loads of space in the back, summer weather almost all year round and a huge Olympic style pool in the back.

Wait a second. Not so fast. There's a lot to be considered before we move into the huge space. And this I have found to my own heartache!

Moving to a new location is always a challenging experience. Even if it is one where you have visited frequently and feel that you know it like the back of your hand.

I had my dreams about Houston. 'I was going to get to Houston and get myself a nice big house with everything I want, for a mere fraction of the cost here in UK. After all, that's Texas right, everything is BIG???'

Silly me. I only forgot to ask myself the following questions, before I started dreaming....
- How much will it cost?
- How much can I afford?
- Buy or rent?
- How close to the city centre do I want to be?
- How close to the city centre can I afford to be?
- How much of a commute will I be doing on the school run?
- Do I really need the pool or would I prefer the space in the backyard?
- What is the neighbourhood like?
- Who are my neighbours?

Of all the questions, I think the most pressing question is picking the right neighbourhood. Location. Location. Location.

Houston is full of stunning and inviting neighbourhoods, each offering a different approach to community living. A lot of construction work is still going on across the city, providing future home-owners with lots of choice and variety. Most houses in these neighbourhoods are beautiful architectural masterpieces with perfectly mowed lawns and pristine landscaping.

And this is just the exterior! Wait until you enter the homes and then you get taken on a wild journey of exquisite internal design with excellent and tasteful finishing.

You can now see how complex the decision gets. How do you pick a 'good' neighbourhood, if all the houses look perfect? How do you decide?

I have relied a lot on the internet, local area journals and word of mouth. And it has been helpful. Research your area, ask friends and colleagues, read up about it and most importantly, go with your gut feel.

I'm still searching, by the way, 'cos my gut ain't feeling anything yet......

Winding down...

We're nearly there. I can't believe it. Less than a month to go. So much to do, so little time.

School closed a couple of weeks ago and my kids had to say goodbye to everyone. It also coincided with my own last day at work, so all round, a very emotional evening for everyone.

How do you say goodbye? It's never really easy, is it? Not when you've thoroughly enjoyed yourself, met some of the world's most amazing people, shared some deep moments with good friends (would you believe that 5 years ago they were total strangers!) and generally spent a decent chunk of your life here. For me it was 12.5% of my life, for my kids it was over 50% of their lives! Oh yes, 5 years is a long time!

I promised myself I wouldn't cry on my last day at work. Well, I did! But somehow, I did not feel bad about showing my emotions. They are a good bunch and I will miss them. The world is too full of people trying to be strong and withholding emotions and frankly, I just needed to be true to myself on that day! So, I wept.

My kids had the same experience. They both walked into school with high spirits and bright smiles in the morning when they were dropped off, and returned in the evening sad and morose. They had said their goodbyes to all their friends and suddenly realised that they would not see some friends ever again. How sad! Thankfully, with communication (email, facebook, telephone, skype), they can keep in touch.

I've also had a couple of 'winding down' social events with close friends. Relaxed informal events with lots of laughter on the surface but a measure of sadness underneath, because we know this is the end of this phase of our friendship. Unless they move our way or we move back this way, we're fully reliant on technology!

Sometimes, I wonder if men have the same feelings as we do regarding goodbyes and transitions. My husband's transition into Houston will be a bit milder than ours, because he has the comfort of the organisational structure which he is already familiar with (it's his job that's transferring us, you see).

On the exterior, it seems like it is business as usual for him, but I could be wrong? Do you think men handle transition better? Or do they just blank it out?

What do you think? Are men just better at keeping their emotions contained???

Life....

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Still at it..

The beauty of an expat relocation is that most of the stuff is done for you. The company finds you a job in the new location, the company arranges for your visas / work authorisation in the new location, the company arranges for the movers to transport you, the company connects you to people who will help with the househunt, the company provides advice on schools etc.

That being said, you will need to do loads of stuff yourself. So what have I acheived so far, how much progress has been made? Have I written a list yet??? Does it even feel like we are moving abroad?

I find I am not very good at writing lists. I have a mental idea of what needs to be done, but just no compulsion to sit down and write it.

School breaks up in a couple of days, so at least the summer holidays are here.
What's on the list:-
- tell the school DONE
- tell the agent that you are vacating the property DONE
- tell the guys at work DONE
- decide on new schools DONE
- decide on new neighbourhood

- plan for and attend the visa interview DONE
- plan for leaving parties (yours, your friends)
- plan for movers to provide moving estimates DONE
- plan for a skip and have a massive clearout
- plan for medical examinations

- think about new location finances / budget (rent, car, utilities, food...)
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